Philly Photographer Takes Stunning Nude Self-Portraits in Abandoned Buildings


Sarah Bloom is a 45-year-old photographer who makes her living by shooting weddings and portrait photography. But Bloom, who lives in Narberth with her 19-year-old daughter, also finds her way into abandoned buildings to take nude self-portraits among the decay, and she’s just gotten international attention for it. Here, she tells us why she does it. A gallery, used with permission, appears after the interview.

So why nude and why in abandoned buildings in Philadelphia?
I had already been taking photos of myself naked to try and get more comfortable with my body. I liked the nude form because of the vulnerability and fragility of our physical beings. And the buildings became a canvas, a backdrop for me. I think they’re beautiful. Sad and beautiful. Aging can be sad but also beautiful, and I try to embrace it as such. There’s a lot of loss there, but also a beauty to it.

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Rachelle Lee Smith, Artist Behind Speaking OUT, on Displaying Queer Art on Broad Street

Rachelle Lee Smith

Rachelle Lee Smith

Chances are, you’ve seen Rachelle Lee Smith‘s work: you just haven’t realized it is hers.

If you’ve walked by the now abandoned Robbinson Luggage store on the corner of Broad and Walnut over the last few months, you’ve surely taken note of the plethora of pictures of LGBTQ youth in the windows. This pop-up project, which is part of Smith’s Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus, has brought her photography quite a bit of local attention. The aim of Smith’s photoessay is to, according to her, “open up minds, humanize the people who fall under the LGBTQ (and the list goes on) spectrum, and create empathy.” Read more »

PHOTOS: Barbara Proud’s First Comes Love Book Launch at UArts

A book launch and reception was held Friday night at University of the Arts for photographer and Associate Professor Barbara Proud’s new page-turner First Comes Love: Portraits of Enduring LGBTQ Relationships (Soleil Press).

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Photographer Snaps Photos of Loved Ones Right After He Tells Them He Has HIV

In his latest project, “I Have Something to Tell You,” Florida photographer Adrain Chesser snapped photos of his family and friends just moments after he told them he was HIV-positive. The collection portrays an array of emotions, from shock to befuddlement to just plain pity. But the process, Chesser told the Huffington Post, helped him conquer the fear of opening up to his loved ones:

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Provocative LGBT Images Up for Grabs in Zoe Strauss Silent Auction

"Women Kissing" is one of the LGBT-centric images available in Zoe Strauss's silent auction for First Person Arts.

“Women Kissing” is one of the LGBT-centric images available in Zoe Strauss’s silent auction for First Person Arts.

Out Philly photographer Zoe Strauss has released a series of images from her 2007 documentary project, “If You Break the Skin, You Must Come In,” to a silent auction benefitting First Person Arts. The project was inspired by a sign she saw off the interstate in southwest Philadelphia advertising an AIDS prevention clinic. The original image, which was included in her 10-year retrospective in 2012 at Philadelphia Museum of Art, is included in the auction.

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Photo Exhibit Documents Last Days of Philadelphia Schools

Philadelphia School Closings Photo Collective Finkle

The Philadelphia School Closing Photo Collective, a project marshaled by Zoe Strauss, will begin a weeklong exhibit of 20 of its photographs at West Philly’s Scribe Video Center on 42nd and Chestnut Streets starting October 16th. The photos document the physical and emotional blackness of the last days of some of the 24 shuttered Philadelphia schools.

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New Project Highlights Our ‘GAYFACE’


New York-based activist/photographer Ashley Kolodner is on an ambitious mission to highlight our pretty gay mugs in her latest project, aptly named “GAYFACE: 1st Class.” The work is a collection of diptych photo portraits of a rainbow of queer folk that she says empowers the queer community and highlights the beauty within all of us, regardless of where we fall on the LGBTQ spectrum.

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Meet the World’s First Female Men’s Model

Suits, slacks and flats punctuate this model’s look. But Casey Legler may not be what you expect – she’s a female model who’s been showing off menswear at one of the top agencies in the world. Time recently profiled the six-foot-two-inch cover girl, where she discussed her bid as an Olympic swimmer back in the day (shaved head and all) and why she tends to steer away from terms like “gender identity.”

Check it out:

A Day With HIV

Courtesy of A Day With HIV

Almost 7,000 people, including 900 children, contract HIV every day around the world. They join an estimated 34.2 million people already living with the disease. On Friday, Sept, 21, people everywhere – those who are both HIV positive and negative – are being asked to share images from their lives.

Positively Aware created the “A Day With HIV” campaign three years ago so that people around the world can share digital photographs recording moments of their day. The goal? To focus attention on the daily trials and triumphs of people living with and impacted by HIV and AIDS through a collective portrait project.

“We’re asking everyone affected by HIV, whether they are positive or negative, to share with all of us an image of their life that expresses what it means to live with HIV,” says Jeff Berry of Positively Aware.

Here’s how to participate:

Take a picture on Sept. 21 that best reflects your life – be it with family, friends, at work or somehow relating to what it means to live or be impacted by the disease.

Photos need to be submitted by Tuesday, Sept. 25, on the project’s website or via email ( People can also follow “A Day with HIV” on Facebook and Twitter (@A_Day_With_HIV) to see updates and share photographs.

The final photos selected for the photo essay of “A Day with HIV” will be announced in October 2012 and select images will be published in the November/December issue of Positively Aware magazine – with four unique covers for this special issue.

“Their images, captured over a single day,” says Berry, “will create a rich photographic tapestry of hope, strength and support.”

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